Fitness Focus: Mental Health
Our society tends to focus on one facet of “fitness”: the physical; however, fitness means more than running three miles a day or doing cross fit. To achieve optimal health, we should focus on the other facets of fitness: mental, emotional, spiritual, and financial. I’m no medical expert, but I have lived in my body for 37 years and one thing I know for sure…when I don’t listen to the clues or pain signals I receive, I’m only a few steps away from a full mental breakdown.
A social media post about a woman being praised for using a sick day for mental health went viral when a top leader at her company mentioned how all employees should learn from her example so their “whole selves” can show up to work. I remember being embarrassed when I called out for a mental health break, and even felt guilty leaving tasks for someone else to finish while I stayed home to rest. Finally, I put myself in check and said, “Leslie, you will do more harm than good if you show up to work in a poor mental state.” That realization forced me to sit down, regroup, and enjoy some much needed rest!
Ten Signs You Need a Mental Health Break:
- Loss of appetite
- Mindless eating
- Sleeping too much
- Excessive spending
- Emotional outbursts
- Excessive drinking or drug abuse
- Sudden change in appearance
- Withdrawal from family and friends
- Lack of energy or motivation
Know Your Baseline
It is possible to experience all of the signs mentioned above, but ask yourself this, “what is my baseline?” A baseline is a standard or as they say in the science world a “control” used to measure variations during an experiment. This means you have to do some soul searching to understand your normal then determine if there is a problem that requires attention.
I remember when I experienced several nights of insomnia back to back with vivid dreams and nightmares that seemed real. Those rough nights coupled with the need to eat every thing in sight alerted me something was going on with my health. I’m normally a good sleeper, I rarely have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. Lack of sleep also makes me hungry since I’m awake more hours of the day than normal. Knowing my baseline helped me identify minor trouble before it became a major issue and calling off work was the best thing to jump start my healing.
There are several resources available to improve your mental health.
- Ask for EAP assistance – most companies offer an Employee Assistance Program that provides counseling, consult your Human Resources department for details.
- Seek advice from clergy – if you’re a member of a faith community, your local church may have counseling services available for members or can direct you to someone who can assist.
- Speak to your physician – medical doctors take an oath to help those in need, let your primary care physician know about the challenges you face so they can refer you to another professional who can assist.
- Open up to a friend or family member – family can tell when you are not yourself, opening up can help them help you.
- If you’re a student, reach out to a school adviser or counselor for additional resources.
- Join a support group – if you struggle with any form of addiction such as alcohol or drugs, this can connect you with others for encouragement.
- Develop healthier habits – look into changing your diet, exercise, prayer, meditation, yoga, energy work, acupuncture, or writing a journal to release some tension.
We only have one mind. If we work as hard at developing our mental health as we do our physical health, we are unstoppable! Mental road blocks prevent us from fulfilling our purpose and should be addressed immediately with care. Listen to your heart when it says take rest, for we are only as productive as our minds’ ability to follow instruction. Love on yourself and others today, and every day!